Bart McAfee has stressed all season that draws don't help much in conference play.
The Merced boys soccer coach became all the more adamant after the Bears opened the Central California Conference with a 2-4 record, nine points out of first place.
McAfee's squad can't drop points if its going to return to the postseason, making Monday afternoon's 2-2 draw with Buhach Colony all the more painful.
Francisco Rodriguez's goal in the 74th minute appeared to grab a late victory for the Bears. But a diving header from Jose Ramirez two minutes from time salvaged a point for the Thunder.
"Definitely happy to at least get something out it," said BC coach Gus Oliveros, whose team is 13-3-2 overall and 4-2-1 in the CCC. "We could not afford a third straight loss and hopefully this gets us going again a little bit.
"We were kind of shorthanded. Between cards and guys coming up with cramps, we played a lot of guys who haven't seen a lot of time.
"I'm very pleased with the minutes they gave us."
The Thunder could hardly be displeased with the tie after scoring on their only shot of the second half.
The Bears (14-5-1, 2-4-1 CCC) couldn't say the same.
Merced's Jose Figueroa opened the scoring in the ninth minute, sliding home Cesar Moreno's well-placed cross.
BC answered less than two minutes later with some pressure and some fortune.
Hector Maldonado got in the way of an attempted clearance by the Bear defense and redirected the ball into the net for the equalizer.
Moreno and BC's Samir Rodriguez were sent off with red cards for a shoving match just before halftime. The extra space looked like it could open up the game a bit in the second half, but only Merced took advantage.
The Thunder midfield stopped running and the much obliged Bears pinned them in their own half. Merced outshot BC 10-1 in the second half and finally took advantage in the 74th minute on Rodriguez's goal.
A free kick into the box started a wild scramble. The ball bounced off a handful of Bears before coming to Rodriguez, who volleyed it home from inside the six-yard box.
The goal awakened the Thunder and they answered with a push in the final minutes.
Merced got caught out of position on a Brian Rodriguez free kick and Ramirez was able to head home the equalizer.
Merced worked a final chance for the win as Meng Moua got free on a breakaway in the 80th minute, but goalkeeper Miguel Guerrero (three saves) turned away his shot.
"We lost concentration and let them in behind," Rodriguez said. "We shouldn't have given up that goal, but it shouldn't have come to that either.
"We had the chances. We've just got to finish."